Page 73 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 34

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YUDKIN / NEW ISRAELI NOVELISTS
63
exercise in
Ha-Sefer ha-Meshuga
(The Mad Book, 1971). The
tone of the book is adolescent, which is precisely what the writer
is aiming at. He resurrects the spirit of the Palmach days by
entering it once more. We should report “adventures of various
kinds, because nothing is more wonderful than an adventure
whose constant movement precipitates the tremulous warm con­
frontation between curiosity and yearning.” The writers of the
Palmach generation were writing for each other and for their
times, replacing an immigrant with a native literature, conscious
of being pioneers. But what is their position now? Can they
change their voice?
There were those who did. No one was more universally as­
sociated with the State’s early fiction than Moshe Shamir (b.
1921), who was as famous as Yizhar and more widely read. His
stories were quite different, rich in action, whether in childhood
reminiscence as in
B’mo Yadav
(With His Own Hands, 1951),
in sententious war tales such as
Hu Halakh ba-Sadot
(He Walked
in the Fields, 1948), or in historical epics such as
Melekh Basar
va-Dam
(King of Flesh and Blood, 1956) and
K ivsat ha-Rash
(Lamb of the Pauper, 1957), known in English translations as
David’s Stranger
(New York, 1964).
All these novels, however, whether set in the contemporary
scene or in ancient times deal with policies, politics, and state­
hood. Shamir recounted tales in which the characters’ lives are
intertwined with national events that shape them and are shaped
by them, happily, heroically and, sometimes, tragically. But al­
ways the hero identifies with the body politic and is involved
with it. But in 1966 Shamir wrote a novel called
Ha-Gebul
(The
Border), in which the hero, Raphael Orlan, is at odds with his
Israeli ethos and attempts to break away. Orlan, who tells the
story (for the most part), is in no man’s land beyond the Jeru­
salem border and strikes up an affair with a Scandinavian woman
whose attraction lies in her being at liberty. She is not Israeli,
therefore unrestricted in her travels as are Israelis. The Zionism
that has created Israel is also castigated: “Today Zionism has
the smell of an airport, that mixture of cigar smoke and per­
fume.”
A similar mood is noted in other writers of the generation.
Aharon Megged (b. 1920) also wrote on national themes both
in his short stories and in his novel
Hedvah va-Ani
(Hedvah and